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courts, fairs, and other public gatherings, and selling the Bible out of one hand and Paine's Age of Reason out of the other, alleging as an excuse for the latter performance, that he always carried the antidote with the poison. His fund of
anecdote was inexhaustible; and after giving a promiscuous audience the highest entertainment of fun, he found them in good mood to purchase his books. At Mount Vernon he was always a welcome guest, for Washington loved his goodness of heart and overlooked his foibles. Mr. Weens died at Beaufort, South Carolina, in May, 1825, at an advanced age.
After the Revolution, for reasons not clearly seen, Washington attended Christ Church, at Alexandria (of which he was a vestryman), instead of Pohick. Others of the latter parish followed, and after a while regular services ceased in that part of the country. Washington owned a pew in Christ Church from the establishment of the parish, in 1764, and occupied it constantly after 1783, until his death. Some of his name have held possession of it ever since. Judge Bushrod Washington
succeeded the General in its occupancy, then his nephew, John A. Washington, the father of the late proprietor of Mount Vernon, and lastly, that proprietor himself. Christ Church, at Alexandria, was finished in 1773, and Washington paid the highest price for a pew in it.
I visited Pohick Church a few years ago, and found it falling rapidly into decay. It stands upon an eminence north of Pohick Creek, on the border of a forest that extends almost uninterruptedly to Mount Vernon. Around it are the ancient oaks of the primeval wood, interspersed with chestnuts and pines. It was just at twilight when I reached the old fane, and after making a sketch of it, I passed on to seek lodgings for the night. The next day was the Sabbath, and being informed that a Methodist meeting was to be held in the church, I repaired thither at the usual hour, and took a seat in Washington's pew, near the pulpit. There I awaited the slow gathering of the little auditory. When all had assembled, men and
women and children, white and black, the whole congregation numbered only twenty-one persons.
I could not refrain from drawing a parallel with the scenes of other days under that venerated roof, when some of the noblest of Virginia's aristocracy worshipped there, while clergymen, in surplice and gown, performed the solemn and impressive ritual of the Church of England. Now, a young man, with nothing to distinguish him from other men but a white cravat, stood as
teacher within the old chancel by the side of the ancient communion-table. He talked sweetly of Christian charity :
“Oh, the rarity
Of Christian charity !"
and asked the little company to join with him in singing the hymn
“Come, Holy Spirit! Heavenly Dove!"
When the service was over, I made note, with pen and pencil, of all within. It was a melancholy task, for decay with its busy fingers was at work all around me, making sure prophecies of the speeedy desolation of a building hallowed by associations with the beloved Washington. Upon the wall, back of the chancel, were still inscribed, the Law, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, upon which the eyes of Washington and his friends had rested a thousand times. A large proportion of the panes of glass were broken from the windows, adınitting freely the wind and the rain, the bats and the birds. The elaborately wrought pulpit, placed by itself on one side of the church, was sadly marred by desecrating hands. Under its sounding-board, a swallow had built her nest; and upon the book ledge the fowls of the air had evidently perched. These things brought to memory the words of the “sweet singer of Israel”— “Yea, the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altar, O Lord of Hosts!"
In the spring of 1772 there was a stranger at Mount Vernon, in errand and person. He was one-and-thirty years of age, slender in form, with a sweet and thoughtful face. He was a native of Maryland, and had been a saddler's apprentice at Annapolis, the capital of the province. In boyhood he had been as beautiful as a girl, and at twenty he was a handsome young man.
At that age he felt spiritual aspirations for the life of an artist; and when, two or three years later, he said to a retired painter who resided a few miles from Annapolis, “Show me, Mr. Hesselius, how you mix such beautiful tints for your canvas, and I will give you the best saddle that I can make," a new world was opening to his enraptured vision. At that moment his true artist life began, for the generous painter revealed to him the coveted secret. Then the occupations of watchmaker, silversmith, carver, and saddler, in which he had severally engaged, were abandoned for the pursuit of art, except when stern necessity compelled him to employ them in earning his daily food. Thus he worked on until a way was opened for him to go to England and place himself under the instruction of Benjamin West, the great American painter, then the loved companion of the king. Two years he remained with West, and in 1769, Charles Willson Peale, the young artist referred to, returned to his native country and set up his easel as a portrait painter at Annapolis and Baltimore with wonderful success.
The fame of the young painter soon reached Mount Vernon, and he was invited there to delineate, for the first time, the form and features of the noble “lord of the manor." He executed the commission admirably, and produced a fine portrait of Washington at the age of forty years, life size, a